Sales and Customer Service

Sales and customer service include all the activities geared toward selling products, goods, and services to people – in essence, determining what makes someone pull out their wallet or sign a contract. Marketing, a related field, focuses on attracting clientele to a product or company; sales focuses directly on the acquisition of customers' money through a financial agreement. Customer service involves the proper training of employees in order to facilitate capturing clients' business, with the aim of increasing revenue from sales.

Someone in sales and customer service helps people find what they are looking for within a store, whether this is a coat, a printer, or a new car. They emphasize its quality, value, and worth, and can answer questions about the features of the product in question. Specialists in this field also help customers with general inquiries and regarding problems with things they have purchased.

Sales and customer service courses teach both theoretical knowledge and practical skills, with an emphasis on preparing students for an ever-changing workplace environment. Typical courses cover topics in sales, advertising, marketing, and accounting, including subjects such as:

  • Marketing Communication
  • Personal Selling
  • Marketing Principles
  • Sales Force Management
  • Customer Relationship Building
  • Services Marketing
  • Business Principles
  • Workplace Management
  • Legal Environment of Business
  • Workplace Communication and Presentations
  • Financial Accounting
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

Skills: An excellent sales and customer service employee is extremely knowledgeable about his or her business and products. Customer service representatives must be professional in attitude, and eager to offer help to customers, or solve problems that may arise. This requires creativity, flexibility, patience, and a positive, friendly attitude. While a lot of people work in sales without a degree, earning one will give you a distinct advantage because it will give you a thorough grounding in the ins and outs of the field.

Salary: The pay in this field varies enormously. A retail salesperson usually works for hourly pay, with the median wage in 2008 being $9.86 per hour (roughly $20,000 per year). A customer service representative typically earns $14.36 per hour (approximately $30,000 per year). The pay increases hugely if you are required to have advanced knowledge or technical expertise in addition to customer service skills. For example, a wholesale/manufacturing sales representative had an average salary of $51,300 in 2008, and someone selling technical and scientific products earned $70,200. The highest-paid 10 percent of workers in this field earn more than $133,040 per annum.

Article Resources:

University of Toledo
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Customer Service Representatives"
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Retail Salespersons"
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: "Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing"
William Paterson University